Every time I see a GlideScope, I can’t help but lament, “why didn’t I think of that?”  To me, the GlideScope exemplifies how physicians can apply their practical knowledge of medicine to create technology that improves patient outcomes. I had a front-row seat to physician-designed technology prior to my residency, when I worked at an early-stage venture capital fund advising on health care investments.  We invested in a number of physician-founded ...

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A few months ago, I walked into work on a late-night shift. One of the nurse practitioners came up to me and said, "There's someone you need to see right away." The patient was a woman of about 60, and it was clear that she was critically ill. According to her husband, she'd been diagnosed with cancer six months ago. It had metastasized throughout her body. Her oncology team made several ...

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There's no arguing the fact that evidence-based medicine (EBM) is moving us in the right direction as far as treating and preventing illness in medicine as a whole, but what does EBM, in its current interpretation, mean for medicine as an individualized art? Everything new or controversial in medicine seems to have a swinging pendulum. From vaccines to hormonal treatment to alternative therapies, the pendulums of medicine seem to be in ...

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Nearly all physicians are now subject to patient satisfaction ratings. In my case, and many thousands of my colleagues across the country, it is via the survey tool sold to health care facilities by the Press Ganey Company. There are also many, many online sources that rate physicians. The idea is a good one: Physicians should be subject to feedback from patients about patient perceptions of how good a job the doctors ...

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The one question you must ask your doctor Your doctor has more control over your life than anyone -- other than you. Your doctor may be the first face you see as you’re born and the last one you see as you die. Doctors look deep inside you, in places nobody has been before. Doctors prescribe drugs that can kill you or save your life. But how do you know if ...

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It was just a regular hot and humid Saturday morning in Miami, and I was on my way out of a local Walmart after buying a few items. As I walked to my car at the end of the parking lot, I heard a voice asking me “Son, any change?” In a neighborhood that is known to have a disproportionately large amount of vagrants, I did what I usually do ...

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“Robert Loeb was the best damned ethicist I ever met.” When I first heard a senior colleague of mine utter these words in the mid-1990s, I was surprised.  Time had not been particularly kind to Loeb, who had been the chairman of medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center from 1947 to 1960.  Among other things, critics had chastised Loeb for being imperious and unwilling to listen; former students had even accused him ...

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As a medical student I was in awe when a professor looked at a patient’s hands or nail beds and described their medical condition without taking a history.  I was also enthralled by a TED talk by the best selling author, Abraham Verghese, where he described a lesson that Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, learned as a medical student at the medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland from the famous physician ...

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Mr. Katz sat on the edge of his chair in my clinic room, teetering as if he might fall at any moment. He was 86-years-old, and his thin body had become weak and tired. But his angry eyes, like a petulant child, stared at me. “Doc, you should have just let me die,” he said to break the ice. I had just discharged Mr. Katz earlier in the week from the hospital. ...

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As a new physician, I find myself besieged by data about how happy patients are with the care we deliver. Press Ganey, HCAPS, Consumer Reports, US News and World Report were merely the beginning. Now, physician reimbursement is tied to how happy patients are after facing and overcoming, at times, life-threatening illnesses in our hospitals. Given the financial incentive, hospitals across the country are seeking the aid of companies like Disney: well-known ...

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